I arrive on a Sunday and head over to Shirley Heights Lookout on English Harbour to watch the sunset. The sounds of a steel-drum band are mesmerizing and suddenly I’m swaying to the music. The crowd on this plateau is in the hundreds, and there’s a sense of camaraderie and fun. Everyone knows that this is the best barbecue on the island. The aroma is intoxicating. I pass my plate to the grill man, and he piles on ribs, chicken and fish until I say stop, then with Rum Punch in hand, I squeeze onto a bench at one of the picnic tables and gaze out at sea and sky. “You’re a long way from home, Sara Waxman,” I say to myself, and I know that my vacation has begun.
Lounging on my terrace at the ultra modern South Point Hotel on Falmouth Bay, a vista of world famous mega yachts is spread out before me. The all-black Maltese Falcon, a 289 ft. clipper sailing yacht rented by the likes of Tom Hanks and Hugh Jackman; the gorgeous Shemara, a 212 ft. motor yacht, its sail soaring into the sky; and many more.
Summoning up courage, I ask for a visit on the extraordinary Rosehearty, a 183.73 metre majestic sailing yacht recently sold by Rupert Murdoch for $29 million. To my delight, the answer is “welcome aboard.” I take off my sandals, not to scuff the highly polished wood floors. Captain David Hutchison points to the huge map of Canada hanging in his office, and proudly tells me that they have recently returned to these warm Caribbean waters from a voyage through the Northwest Passage. In the galley, a handsome young chef from France is chopping veggies for dinner with the precision of a surgeon, while a huge stock pot simmers gently on the back burner. In a small lounge, a young woman from Rhode Island is busy at her job, cleaning all the spots off furniture covers and fabrics with an astounding array of products. A deck hand tells me, “a lot better than being cold in England right now.” This is a world away from my normal. Not surprising that there is great concern for security, when the entire vessel is a jewel, agleam with tons of polished chrome.
When Visiting Antigua, don’t miss:
The British fleet under Admiral Nelson docked here, loaded with bricks for ballast, and left filled with sugar for British sugar barons. Other ships imported mahogany trees for the massive boat repair yards and palm trees that grow bananas and sweet pineapple. Some were slave ships with “cargo” from Sierra Leone. A World Heritage Site.
Museum of Antigua and Barbuda
Sugar cane plantations once dominated this peaceful landscape. Several of the unique thimble-shaped stone sugar mills still stand as a reminder of the history of slavery during the British colonial era. Take time to visit the small but intensely poignant Museum, it will enrich your visit.
Learn to cook local, at a totally hands-on class with Nicole Arthurton in her charming home. Prepare (and eat) an entire meal that might include roti, chicken curry, green vegetables and pumpkin and luscious coconut tart, with a group of like-minded strangers who quickly become friends. Nicole has an attractive unpretentious charm and guides us effortlessly through a delicious experience.
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.